Aussie has some great stories to tell! One involved a Honda 450 that he owned. He says that his son surprised him by having the whole bike finished in chrome! He says he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! And he sent me this photo of the shiny bike. It must have been an amazing thing to see! He actually owned a couple of them. He says the first one was traded on a BMW, which came to an unfortunate end, as did his riding for a while. Then he bought another one, "which had seen better days," a few years later. It was this second bike that sealed his future as a motorcyclist. And it was this bike that was traded on the Suzuki GS. Aussie has been a regular reader for quite some time, and has also been a regular and very welcome contributor to our Feedback section. His first email got me in straight away, when he told me about owning a Suzuki GS1000G for 26 years. And he still loved it! He says he originally bought it after reading about it's "bullet-proof reliability" and seeing a couple of other people with similar bikes having good service from theirs. He says that the Suzuki is "unbelievably manageable, from feet-up-figure-8s to any speed beyond." It has needed some repairs over all those the years (as you'd expect!), including a couple of top-end re-builds; but over-all it has given excellent service. He says, "Like a good woman, we're growing old together and we have a similar love/hate relationship. We've had so much fun and adventures together, they'll probably bury it with me!" But before getting to the Suzuki, it's worth repeating his story of getting that second Honda 450. As he mentioned, the bike wasn't in the best of condition, and he tells about getting up and seeing it next morning after he bought it. "Tears welled up in my eyes!" On seeing what he'd bought, and the condition it was in? No. He explains, "A heap of shit it may have been, but I was overcome with emotion on stepping out the back door and seeing a motorcycle sitting there. Wondering how I'd got by without one for so long, I knew from that moment there would always be a sickle in my life; and that vow has held good ever since." When the time came to up-date the Honda to something a bit bigger, he was attracted to the Suzuki, for reasons I mentioned above. I'll let him continue the story. Parked the 450 Honda twin (the most under-rated sickle ever!) outside and my Missuse and I walked into the bike shop. Seeing that impressive lump of iron, I thought that it looked like what we were after. With both of us sitting on it, there was a heap of room on that huge, comfortable seat. I reckoned with a set of throw-over panniers, Gearsack and a tankbag on the large classic styled tank, we'd have to be astride the best interstate touring motorcycle ever made! Ease out for a test ride. Snick third and rap it. Shit! A 450 it ain't! G-forced rearwards, I involuntarily wound on even more power, and finished up in the pillion-seat with my wife's bum hanging over the tail light! By gees that bike felt heavy as I gingerly wobbled us back to the shop! Guess I was in a state of shock, having previously been intimidated by the mighty XS 1100 Yamaha! I still love 'em to this day. What a sickle! Fast forward a couple of months. My mate took me for a ride in his new Suzuki GS 1000G sidecar which he and his wife took up the old unmade corrugated Stuart Highway to Alice Springs. Their son hammered a smaller, indestructible GS850G around town and eventually up the Birdsville Track. Our test ride showed the big one litre Suzuki shaftie to have all the advantages of the Yammie plus excellent handling as well as a more user-friendly power delivery. Trickling pillion, feet-up figure eights were too easy. During the following three years roughly 64,000 kilometres rolled under those wheels as we regularly visited my parents in the Hunter Valley N.S.W, usually by-passing Sydney via the fabulous but dangerous Putty Road, rolling up to rallies all over south east Australia and visiting an old bikie mate who lived in Brisbane. We always camped out which meant hauling maximum loads. This photo was taken in 1982. I kept my ol' GS 1000G Suzuki because nothing better came along. That mighty XS1100 Yamaha and their Diversion XJ 900 were its equal, but they are long gone. My "G" averages a constant 5.8 litres per 100km at 110-120 kph fully loaded or not. Two Wheels magazine ran 12.3sec standing quarters and 0 to 100kph in just over four seconds back in 1981. This would still see you blowing away all but the most expensive exotic sports cars today. However, my sickle has since undergone some headwork and a set of Wiseco slugs which enlarged engine capacity to 1085cc. Unfortunately, it was built on Friday knock-off time and running a batch of Shell XMO "You Beaut Hi Tek" excuse for motor oil ensured that my original oil burning engine burned even more after only 60,000 kilometres. What followed was a rolling test bed as we exposed some myths, and products such as a well known metal conditioner, and running-in procedures. Incidentally, new rings may restore a lease of life to classic British iron and Ducatis, but they sure don't work on a big Jap four! However, that's another (long) story. Being rather old-fashioned, I like to keep in touch with grass roots motorcycling. In my younger days I wouldn't even have a fairing, however being older and softer, a handlebar fairing protects me from most weather, bugs and gravel while still allowing me to feel the wind in my face under the open helmet. Ear plugs preserve my hearing and allow me to hear that beautiful exhaust sound of a contented engine which is normally drowned out by wind noise. Point is, those full dressers with stereos, elaborate bodywork and electronic "driving aids" are virtual two wheel cars! Motorcycling is a focus on the senses. Why pollute something so pure? We have purpose built sportsters, their performance which can never be fully exploited by the average rider and absolute torture to tour on. Today's no bullshit basic long distance tarburners (not duel purpose) would have to be the retro nakeds like Yamaha's XJR 1300 and Suzuki's GSX 1400, but they have chains! Once you've owned a shaft drive, you never want to return to a high maintenance, expensive chain. These days, my long distance touring days are past, due to health problems, but we still stay bonded with fortnightly runs around Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island races. With close on 225,000 kilometres up, she runs as sweet as ever. As I told my son, "They say you can't take it with you, but I'm working on it!" Whatever you could ask for in a good basic big-bore tourer, these old Jap shafties had it all !
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